When it comes to our homes, having peace of mind is a must. Home emergency cover can give us that, but it isn’t always clear what it covers or if it’s worth paying for.
Let’s look at home emergency cover in-depth to understand whether it’s something worth buying.
What is home emergency cover?
Home emergency cover helps you cope with the aftermath of an incident. Having cover may make it easier to get a tradesperson to visit your home and deal with the matter at hand without leaving you facing high out-of-pocket costs.
How does home emergency cover work?
Many people buy home emergency cover as a standalone product in addition to their home insurance policy. It can help cover the costs of various issues, including:
- Burst pipes
- Boiler breakdowns
- Blocked drains, toilets and sinks
- Electrical failure
Some home emergency policies even cover roof repairs where bad weather is responsible for the damage. Emergency repairs such as this can help to prevent further damage while offering peace of mind.
Most home emergency policies provide access to a 24-hour helpline, ensuring you can get a registered tradesperson out to your home to complete repairs at the earliest opportunity.
Benefits of home emergency cover
There are multiple benefits of having home emergency cover. These can include:
- Knowing you have protection in the event of an accident
- Having access to a 24-hour helpline
- Being able to claim without affecting any no-claims bonus you may have on your home insurance policy
Another indirect benefit is that your policy will outline your responsibilities around maintaining your home to ensure your cover remains valid. As such, having home emergency cover can make you more vigilant and proactive about keeping your property in good order.
Checking your existing home emergency cover
Before you take out home emergency cover, it’s always worth looking at your current contents and buildings insurance. You may be able to add home emergency cover to your existing policy or already have some degree of cover.
One of the advantages of adding home emergency cover to an existing home insurance policy is that there’s only one emergency helpline number to ring. A boiler breaking, a burst pipe, or a broken down freezer could involve a call to one insurance company.
However, not all insurance providers offer home emergency cover as an add-on. If this is the case with your insurance provider, you may need to look for an individual home emergency insurance product.
How to buy home emergency cover
If you cannot purchase home emergency cover as an add-on to your buildings and contents insurance, don’t worry. You can shop around for the right cover to help keep your home safe.
Before looking for home emergency cover, ensure you know what type of cover you need. Some policies come with a few exclusions, so it’s worth knowing what is and isn’t covered.
Some home emergency policies may not cover you for:
- External pipes
- Routine boiler service and maintenance
- General wear and tear to your roof
- Combi boilers that are a specific age
- Issues resulting from a lack of regular maintenance to your home
Factors to consider
Some factors to consider when purchasing a policy include:
- The maximum amount you can claim for
- How many times you can make a callout, and if there are any callout fees
- If claims made in the first 14 days of your policy will be honoured
- If your home emergency cover is invalidated should your home be unoccupied for longer than a month
- The price of the policy
You should also consider the following factors:
- If you can reclaim the cost of alternative accommodation if you have to leave your home for a specific period
- What types of water damage your policy covers
- If your home emergency policy covers remedying pest infestations
- If your policy includes cover for damage to your central heating system, including radiators
It’s worth considering each of these factors, but what’s most important to you will depend on your needs.
Check the terms and conditions of any policy before you start paying for it to ensure you have the cover you need.
What is considered to be an emergency?
An emergency is considered an unforeseen and sudden incident that must be dealt with ASAP. An emergency might be:
- The loss of essential services such as lighting, cold or hot water, heating, or mains drainage
- Your home has become uninhabitable, permanently dangerous or damaged
- You face another risk to your health and wellbeing
Remember that the policy documents might not cover what you consider an emergency. For example, a dripping tap can be a nuisance, but your home emergency insurance provider is unlikely to send a plumber to your home to fix it.
Just like you checked you had the cover you needed before buying the policy, ensure you know the circumstances when you can call someone out. Sometimes, “false” callouts might lead to you bearing the expense, so it’s best to be sure exactly when you can do this. That said, the advisors on your insurer’s helpline should also be able to help on this front.
What does home emergency cover typically include?
Home emergency cover can typically include:
- Alternative accommodation costs
- Electrical failure
- Drainage and plumbing issues
- Pest infestation such as wasps, rats, and mice
- Damage to your roof after a storm
- Lost house keys and broken locks on your front door
While home insurance providers may offer something different, you could be at an advantage if you have a standalone home emergency policy. Dedicated policies might provide you with more comprehensive cover than an add-on to your home insurance policy, even if you will pay a little more overall.
In the event of a flooding incident, for example, a dedicated home emergency cover product might help you get organised quicker than your home insurance. This might also ensure you reduce out-of-pocket expenses or avoid ending up with balances sitting on a credit card, for example, while you wait for your claim to go through.
What doesn’t home emergency cover usually include?
Home emergency insurance doesn’t usually cover every incident or emergency. It’s likely that you won’t be covered for the following:
- Issues caused by lack of maintenance, wear and tear, and poor handiwork
- Damage as a result of blockages or hard water deposits
- Appliance breakdowns such as showers and washing machines
- Power cuts caused by external wiring
- Floods caused by leaking external pipes
- If the total cost of the emergency cover fees are more than the maximum callout charges and parts with labour and VAT
- Emergencies that occur within 14 days of the policy’s start date
Other things that may not be included are:
- Boilers still under warranty that have not been serviced or are very old. Note that some home emergency policies include an annual boiler service.
- Homes that have been unoccupied for 30, or 60 days in a row
- Repairs that need to be made beyond the emergency repairs
How to reduce the risk of having a home emergency
There is no guarantee that an emergency won’t take place. However, keeping your home in a good state of repair can help. You may also want to do the following:
- Have your boiler serviced annually and bleed your radiators at the same time
- Work to prevent pipes from freezing by repairing dripping taps and checking lagging pipes
- Have electrical issues repaired quickly by a qualified electrician
- Regularly inspect your roof for signs of damage
Preparing yourself for an emergency
Adding home emergency cover to your home insurance policy or buying a standalone policy is an ideal way to ensure you’re protected in an emergency.
Consider whether such a policy is right for you, your options, and the pros and cons of each choice before taking the right path for your needs, circumstances, and home.